Czech schoolchildren want Sir Nicholas Winton to win a Nobel Prize Peace Prize before it’s too late. The prize can only be awarded to a living person, and Winton is 103.
The students have helped collect 170,000 signatures on behalf of the English centenarian, who saved 669 Jewish children in 1938 and 1939. The students’ efforts have convinced Miroslava Nemcova, the speaker of the Czech Republic’s lower house of parliament, to formally submit his name for the 2013 peace prize.
“We’re not just trying to gain signatures to support Sir Nicholas Winton’s nomination for the Nobel Prize,” said Dominika Kourilova, a Prague high school student who stood next to Nemcova at a press conference announcing the nomination. “We’re also trying to spread his story around the world.”
It wasn’t until the ’80s that Winton’s heroic story came to light. In 1938, Winton, then a young stockbroker from London, visited Prague, and quickly perceived that Hitler would go on to occupy more than just the Sudetenland, and that the lives of Czech Jews were in danger. For nine months, even after the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Winton organized kindertransports, special trains that brought Czech and Slovakian Jewish children to safety in London.
Winton has been knighted, and has received a variety of awards for his deeds on the eve of WWII. A documentary has been made about his story, and he’s had the pleasure of being reunited over the years with many of the youngsters — now senior citizens — he rescued.
Czech officials have already nominated Winton twice in previous years, but the students are hoping the third time will be the charm. His latest nomination would make Winton the oldest Nobel laureate ever.